As Columbia River Channel Dredging
by Dylan Rivera
VANCOUVER - A project to deepen the Columbia River shipping channel to 43-feet should be complete by the end of the year, officials said Friday.
But even before that $194 million project is complete, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and shipping industry officials said they are keen to pursue federal money to rehab the jetties that shield the channel at the mouth of the river. That could cost $400 million to $500 million.
The grain and shipping industries made their case in Vancouver Friday in a discussion with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who has used her influence in Congress to support channel deepening. Murray got $26.6 million in economic stimulus money for the dredging project, the last chunk needed for completion, years before it would have otherwise been available.
In a three-part series of articles in 2002, The Oregonian found the Corps had overstated potential economic benefits from the deepening project and understated its environmental risks.
Murray said it seemed like she spent her "whole life" trying to fund the deepening.
"All the work that's been done for the channel can be undone by the jetties," she said.
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